Saturday, October 9, 2010

Colaiacovo's goal is a winner in overtime

Despite converting only 1 of 10 power plays,
Blues able to slip past Flyers

ST. LOUIS -- Carlo Colaiacovo's eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. But it was only October.

However, Christmas came two months early for the Blues' defenseman, and he did not mind one bit.

Colaiacovo was in the right place at the right time, making no mistake with a one-timer from the slot as he converted an Alex Steen rebound attempt 1 minute 47 seconds into overtime to give the Blues a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night before a packed barn of 19,150 at Scottrade Center.

Colaiacovo followed up Steen's backhand attempt and rifled a slap shot over the left shoulder of goalie Brian Boucher to give the Blues the win in their season opener.

"You hope for an opportunity like that throughout the game," Colaiacovo said of his third career goal against the Flyers. "Luckily, I just found myself in the right spot at the right time. Thankfully, it went in. Huge goal for us, huge win for us. We'll enjoy it tonight."

The game featured a plethora of penalties -- 15 for the Flyers (1-0-1) and 10 for the Blues (1-0-0) -- that included 10 power play opportunities for the Blues and another five for Philly.

Steen assisted on both Blues goals, Brad Boyes also scored his first of the season and Jaroslav Halak backstopped 29 shots in his Blues' debut.

Not exactly what the Blues would call a picture-perfect game, but it certainly was a picture-perfect ending.

"It was a good victory for our hockey club," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "I didn't particularly like the way we started the third period, but we found a way.

"Lots of coachable moments, but two points here on opening night and we'll take it."

Steen, who caused a turnover by forcing the Flyers behind their goal with the puck, was able to curl around the goal and get a backhand shot off that was blocked into the slot. Colaiacovo made the necessary read and laid everything into it with his left-handed blade. The shot beat Boucher high and the frenzy was on on and off the ice.

"It's just a good read," Payne said. "There was no danger in the read based on his ability to return back up ice if the puck didn't come there. We want to make sure we have a look at those opportunities and get our rear end back if we have to."

Steen said, "After mine got blocked, you turn around and I saw Carlo coming down with a full head of steam. It looked like a good opportunity. I was just happy to see the puck go in."

Boucher called it a busted play that went well for the Blues.

"I didn't even see it," Boucher said. "... I think we turned it over and then the puck went in front and then it just went right to him. I could see the guy winding up but they had a couple guys in front. I just tried to take position. He blew it by me."

Halak, who didn't see his first shot until there was 11:55 remaining in the first period, was particularly sharp as the game progressed.

He preserved a 1-0 Blues lead with a couple of point-blank stops in the waning seconds of the opening period. He also thwarted Mike Richards on a short-handed attempt in the second period, kicking out his right pad during a 2-on-1 rush early in the period, in which the Blues outshot Philadelphia 11-6.

"Tonight, I got a few (shots) after a while, but I was still in the game. I was trying to focus," said Halak, traded to the Blues on June 17. "I felt comfortable out there and it showed at the end of the game.

"It's great to win that first game."

The Blues took the lead in a penalty-filled opening period when Boyes scored a power-play goal at 15:48. Each team had a two-man advantage in the period, but only the Blues cashed in on theirs as Boyes deflected home a one-timer from Erik Johnson.

"Earlier he took that shot and it hit me in the foot," Boyes said of Johnson. "The second one, I got a clear look at that and he kept it low. It was easy for me to get it directed. Normally, he shoots it pretty hot and they come pretty quick."

The teams combined for 25 penalties and 64 minutes of penalty time.

"There were a lot of penalties," Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk said. "You see that a lot earlier in the year just because the refs got the memo that (the league) wants to crack down. Obviously, you still have to find a way to win."

The Flyers caught wind in the third period and tied the game as Daniel Briere knocked in a rebound high over Halak's glove after the goalie initially stopped Matt Carle's shot from the high slot 2:15 into the third period.

Boyes blocked the first shot that came through but the Flyers were able to stick with it and tie the game 2:15 into the final period.

"I think it was the second period where we were just pushing them down and holding them down in their end," Steen said. "In the third for whatever reason, we got pushed back a little bit."

Briere nearly won it for the Flyers in overtime, but his shot from the slot hit the crossbar with 3:31 left.

* Hull honored -- The Blues honored Hall of Famer Brett Hull in a pregame ceremony and dedicated the third statue in front of Scottrade Center.

Hull's statue was unveiled an hour before the game, a likeness of him with arms raised and a stick in one hand.

"This is pretty good when you get immortalized with a statue outside a place that you loved being a part of over the years," Hull said. "It's humbling to say the least.

"I had no idea what to expect out there with that number of people out there and the excitement was overwhelming. I did a little posing for it so I had a feeling what it was going to be like. It was very well-done."

Hull, always jovial with the media throng even in his playing days, said, "I just hope the people will come by every once in a while and shoo the pigeons away from it."

* Janssen leaves game -- Enforcer Cam Janssen left the game late in the second period after taking an inadvertent elbow from teammate Brad Winchester.

Janssen lay on the ice for a few minutes before being helped off the ice, though he skated on his own power. He did not return to the game and went to the hospital to be evaluated.

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